Blog Tour: Beautiful Shining People, Michael Grothaus

Book Review: Beautiful Shining People, Michael Grothaus

Beautiful Shining People, Michael Grothaus

Science Fiction: Beautiful Shining People, Michael Grothaus

Blog Tour March 13, 2023


I cannot say enough good things about this book. Beautiful Shining People is an exquisite story with incredible characters, an almost poetic elegy on what it means to be human.


John is a “boy genius,” a 17-year old kid who’s written a quantum computing program coveted by all of the major tech firms. Sony has won an aggressive bidding war and has flown him to Japan and set him up with an apartment in Tokyo. One night, still plagued by jet lag from his flight to Tokyo from America, John decides to go for a walk. He stumbles upon a cafe that also offers ear-cleaning services. Inside he meets two people: Goeido, a 400 pound former Sumo, and Neotnia, perhaps the most beautiful woman John has ever met.


Neotnia appears to be just a little older than John. After she cleans his ears, John returns to his apartment and is finally able to sleep. The next day, though, he realizes he left his backpack at the cafe. Returning, Neotnia gives him his backpack and the two young people begin talking. Neotnia’s English is perfect, and for a lonely teenage boy this vision of loveliness is an absolute godsend. 


John and Neotnia spend more and more time together. He accompanies her to her volunteer work at a local retirement home. They go on dates, movies and dinners and sightseeing. Goeido does not seem to like John much, but Neotnia’s presence makes that tolerable.


For reasons explained in the book, John has a terrible self-image of his body. As things get more serious with Neotnia, his fear of rejection becomes more and more consuming. What John does not know is that Neotnia also hides a secret about her body, one that may be greater than John’s.


Calling this a work of science fiction (or speculative fiction) hardly does it justice. It is a book about humanity, about relationships, about self-image and acceptance. It is a book about war and peace, about purpose and meaning, about life and love and choices. 


Michael Grothaus shows us a damaged near-future world. America and China are in a new cold war, fought by proxies in other countries and by digital deep-fakes online. Each side is looking for the edge that will secure victory. Grothaus sets part of his story in Hiroshima, overtly reminding readers of the consequences of victory at any cost. In the midst of this posturing and positioning, the lives of two young people in Japan are upended.


You’ll have to read the book to find out how all this ties together. Trust me, though, you will welcome the opportunity.

Beautiful Shining People, Michael Grothaus

Our thanks to Anne Cater Random Things for our copy of Beautiful Shining People, given to us so we could participate in this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this novel, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

Beautiful Shining People, Michael Grothaus

Book Review: Beautiful Shining People, Michael Grothaus

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